Lisa Pilotte is a student from the University of Alabama in Huntsville who last summer participated in the Global Internship program in Seville. We interviewed her in order to know how she beneffited from this experience:
CIEE: What do you think about Seville as the location for your professional internship? Think of other options you had in mind, what do you think are the factors that weigh in favour of Seville over other cities, etc.
Lisa: I think Sevilla as a location for my internship was perfect. I had never heard of Sevilla until I was placed in a job there. I’m glad I was able to go Sevilla over other bigger Spanish cities like Madrid or Barcelona because I felt like I was really submerged in the Spanish culture. Sevilla is a perfect sized city, that way I could do everything and not have to wait in long lines or get stuck in the touristy parts. I felt by the end of my trip that I had explored and did everything Sevilla had to offer.
CIEE: How was your company? Describe the company (name, sector, structure geographic area, clients, number of employees, building, work environment, etc.)
Lisa: I interned at a company called Onyx CenterSource as an Operations Team member. Onyx is a business to business company that deal with payments between hotels and travel agencies. The office was located on the 4th and 5thfloors of a building outside of the city center. It was an office environment with a total of about 100 employees on both floors.
CIEE: What was your first impression? How was your first day as an intern? At a personal level, emotionally, having to use your Spanish, meeting your peers, things that struck you as curious, etc
Lisa: My first impression of Onyx was very overwhelming but exciting at the same time. Everyone at Onyx was so helpful and made me feel welcomed and part of the team. Using Spanish was difficult for me my first few days because I didn’t know the terminology but after a while I began to learn, and it became easier.
CIEE: What tasks did you carry out? Consider your evolution, things that you wanted to do and did, things you were not expecting to do but did, etc.
Lisa: My tasks were acquiring basic knowledge of customer service and activities such as answering emails; assisting in phone calls; distribution of email back log; creating hotel profiles; and other miscellaneous tasks related to daily production. I think that I did everything that I was expecting to do at Onyx. My favorite task was sending out documentation to the Eastern European countries because they are different than others around the world.
CIEE: Who of your work colleagues helped you the most during the entire length of the internship? How? Don’t forget his name, age, position and, if possible, something about his personality and attitude at work that you liked
Lisa: The colleague that helped me out the most at my internship was Adua Morelli. Adua is from Italy who has been living in Spain for a few years. She is 32 years old and was one of the customer service representatives at Onyx. She helped me a lot with everything. She trained me and always helped me when I had questions. Even though she spoke English, she always spoke Spanish to me because she knew I was learning and wanted to help me practice.
CIEE: What were the main challenges you faced? What were your fears? (if you had them) How did you confront and overcome them?
Lisa: My biggest challenge in Spain was definitely the language barrier. My Spanish was okay, and I thought I would be able to communicate more fluently than I did at first. I didn’t realize how different Spain’s Spanish was compared to Latin America. I overcame the language barrier by practicing speaking Spanish constantly.
CIEE: What were the main gains you obtained out of this experience? Think both professionally and personally, as a student abroad
Lisa: My main goals that I obtained from this experience was improving my Spanish, seeing what it is like to work in my field of interest, and what it is like to live in another country since I see myself moving out of the United States in the near future.
CIEE: What’s the most interesting, the funniest or the most revealing anecdote you can share about your internship in Seville?
Lisa: I think the funniest thing that happened at my internship was on the last day, we had our usual group meeting and the team leader was talking. He has a deep voice and talks low, so I couldn’t hear what he was saying. He directed the attention to me because it was my last day and said “mañana es tu último día? Since I couldn’t hear him, I just said “De nada” and everyone started laughing. And then he repeated himself and I answered the question. I know it’s not super funny or interesting, but in the moment it was and that was one of the last memories I have from Spain with all my co-workers.
CIEE: Would you recommend interning in Spain to other students? Why?
Lisa: Yes, I would recommend interning in Spain to other students because Spain is full of culture. Language, food, flamenco, family, religion, art and more are all what make Spain a different and unique place that you can’t find anywhere else in the world.
CIEE: Finally, can you describe the experience of interning in Seville with just ONE word?